Former Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-S.D.), who joined the lobby practice of Olsson Frank Weeda last year, will leave the firm this summer to become general counsel of Raven Industries in Sioux Falls.
Her new job starts Sept. 1.
“She’s moving her family back home,” Olsson Frank’s Richard Frank said. He noted that she wanted to be closer to family in South Dakota and for her young son to go to school in the state. Raven offered her a “wonderful opportunity,” he added. “We’re disappointed. We’re going to miss her.”
Herseth Sandlin could not be reached for comment today, but a press release from Raven said her general counsel and vice president of corporate development position was a newly created one at the company.
“As Raven grows, we recognize that legal, compliance, government relations and corporate responsibility initiatives can be more effectively accomplished from within our organization,” Daniel A. Rykhus, Raven’s president and CEO, said in a statement.
“Her knowledge of the law, public policy expertise and professional relationships will add significant value to our corporate development strategy,” he added.
The move has some South Dakotans wondering whether it will help position her to run for elective office again. Herseth Sandlin served in the House from 2004 to 2011, losing her bid for re-election in 2010.
Her husband, former Rep. Max Sandlin (D-Texas), is the Washington, D.C.-based co-chairman of the lobbying and public relations firm Mercury. The Argus Leader newspaper of Sioux Falls reported that he will continue to work as a registered lobbyist there. Max Sandlin did not immediately return a call seeking comment. But a spokesman for Olsson Frank said he would commute often from Sioux Falls.
In a statement, Herseth Sandlin said the move is a "wonderful professional opportunity."
"The company exemplifies the heart of the South Dakota can-do work ethic and focuses its innovation and leadership on solving great challenges," she said. "Such an atmosphere is inspiring. I'm also excited that this opportunity allows Max and me to raise Zachary full time in South Dakota."